Seattle Eyes High-Tech Gunshot Detectors

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The city of Seattle might turn to high-tech acoustic sensors to locate gunshots, in an effort to deal with gun violence.

The system is called ShotSpotter. Designed by Mountain View, Calif.-based SST Inc. It consists of sensors that hear the sound of a gunshot and pinpoint where it is by triangulating from the intensity of the sound at different points. After the shot is picked up, the data is sent to an "Incident Review Center" that calculates more accurately where the shot was fired, before passing on the information to 911 dispatchers. The company claims a range of up to 2,000 yards for the sensors.

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Besides just noting the location of a gunshot, SST says it can gather data about the volume and frequency of gunshots, allowing law enforcement agencies to target their efforts to certain neighborhoods. In addition it can help provide evidence for use in prosecutions.

The company made a presentation to city officials Thursday; there's no word yet on whether it will be adopted there. The company says in its presentation slides that it would cost some $40,000 to $60,000 per square mile. SST says ShotSpotter is in 58 cities around the country.

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Not every location has been a success; in New Haven, Conn., the ShotSpotter system has been criticized for false positives and failing to pick up shots in the first place. To address that, the company said it would have the system reroute data so that it would go to SST for analysis first before being sent to the 911 center; unlike the one proposed in Seattle the system in New Haven was sending data to the 911 center first.

Via Geekwire

Image: SST Inc.